Leicester City confirmed their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup with a comfortable 2-0 win over Wigan Athletic.
Brendan Rodgers named a fairly rotated side but the Foxes took the lead inside 20 minutes after Tom Pearce put Marc Albrighton’s cross into his own net.
Harvey Barnes then doubled Leicester’s advantage just before half-time, capping off a fine counter attack and putting the Foxes in firm control.
Jamal Lowe thought he had pulled a goal back for the visitors with 20 minutes remaining but it was ruled out by VAR for an offside in the build up to the goal.
Rodgers’ domestic cup run reaches 30: Key stats from Leicester 2-0 Wigan…
- Brendan Rodgers has won all seven of his FA Cup third round games, with four different teams (Watford, Swansea, Liverpool, Leicester).
- He has also now progressed from 30 consecutive domestic cup ties, last failing in the FA Cup semi-final with Liverpool in April 2015.
- Meanwhile Wigan have lost their past three FA Cup games since reaching the quarter-finals in 2017/18.
Where should Leicester’s priorities lie?
After the third weekend of 2020 Leicester are still competitive in three competitions. They remain in a fight to keep their top four spot in the Premier League, are in the fourth round of the FA Cup and the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup. But where should they put their biggest focus for the next few months?
Although many expect Leicester to finish in the top four when the 2019/20 season ends, they cannot rest on their laurels. The Foxes do still need to keep up performances to ensure the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur do not overtake them.
They also have a very good chance of reaching the Carabao Cup final with a two-legged tie against Premier League strugglers Aston Villa coming up, starting at home on Wednesday. But things haven’t been too positive for Leicester on the squad front recently, on top of the injury to Jamie Vardy.
In Saturday’s game, Leicester lost two of their rotated centre-backs Wes Morgan and Filip Benkovic to injury, leading Rodgers to bring on Caglar Soyunu and Christian Fuchs – the latter playing out of position. Although this won’t harm their Premier League side too much, it does mean they may be unable to rotate as much as they would like if their FA Cup fourth round draw is a favourable one.
Next five fixtures
08 January 2020: Leicester vs Aston Villa (Carabao Cup)
11 January 2020: Leicester vs Southampton (Premier League)
19 January 2020: Burnley vs Leicester (Premier League)
22 January 2020: Leicester vs West Ham (Premier League)
01 February 2020: Leicester vs Chelsea (Premier League)
What next for Wigan?
Now out of the FA Cup, Wigan will be fully focused on securing their Championship status between now and May. The Latics, who were promoted two years ago are currently 22nd after 26 games and occupying the final relegation spot.
They are just one point behind Stoke City in 21st but the Latics are in terrible form. Prior to their 3-2 win at Birmingham City on New Year’s Day, the Latics had gone 13 games without victory losing seven. That run saw them drop from 18th to bottom, only moving with the victory at St Andrews.
Even with their ability to focus fully on the Championship, things don’t really get easier for Wigan. Their next five games are against teams in the top half of the table including matches against league leaders Leeds and Swansea City who currently sit in the final play-off place.
Next five fixtures
11 January 2020: Wigan vs Bristol City (Championship)
18 January 2020: Swansea vs Wigan (Championship)
25 January 2020: Wigan vs Sheffield Wednesday (Championship)
01 February 2020: Leeds vs Wigan (Championship)
08 February 2020: Wigan vs Preston (Championship)
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Player in focus: Harvey Barnes
Brendan Rodgers sprung a slight surprise with his starting XI to face Wigan on Saturday, opting to leave Kelechi Iheanacho on the bench. With Jamie Vardy still nursing a calf injury, Iheanacho was expected to start against Wigan as Leicester’s replacement striker. Instead, Harvey Barnes was the man to lead the line.
Playing out of his natural position, Barnes could be forgiven for having a quiet game but he thrived in the new role showing he can provide that option for Rodgers if needs be in the future.
The 22-year-old combined well with Marc Albrighton and Demarai Gray throughout the night and caused Wigan problems they wouldn’t have prepared for. His late run into the box influenced Tom Pearce’s own goal as the Wigan defender was panicked by his presence and he then doubled Leicester’s lead.
Barnes held his run perfectly as Leicester broke, getting onto the end of a pass from Ben Chilwell. He cut onto his right foot and shot, beating David Marshall by a deflection but it was a goal his performance deserved.
The rest of the Saturday’s FA Cup action
- Birmingham 2-1 Blackburn: 10-man Birmingham scored in injury time to book their place in the fourth round ahead of Championship rivals Blackburn.
- Bristol City 1-1 Shrewsbury: League One side Shrewsbury came from behind to earn a replay against their Championship opponents.
- Burnley 4-2 Peterborough: Sean Dyche’s men avoided an upset with Jay Rodriguez scoring once in either half as part of a commanding win.
- Millwall 3-0 Newport County: Millwall’s revival under Gary Rowett continues with a comfortable win putting them in the fourth round.
- Rochdale 1-1 Newcastle: 40-year-old Aaron Wilbraham cancelled out Miguel Almiron’s opener to earn Rochdale a replay and a trip to St James’ Park.
- Rotherham 2-3 Hull: Hull came from 2-1 down to beat 10-man Rotherham with Tom Eaves completing a hat-trick in injury time.
- Brentford 1-0 Stoke: Emiliano Marcondes scored the only goal of the game as Championship high-fliers Brentford got the better of Stoke.
- Brighton 0-1 Sheffield Wednesday: Adam Reach’s second-half goal saw Sheffield Wednesday knock out Premier League side Brighton, one of the shocks of the round so far.
- Cardiff 2-2 Carlisle: Cardiff came from two goals down to avoid a shock against League Two opposition.
- Fulham 2-1 Aston Villa: Two wondergoals from Anthony Knockaert and Harry Arter helped Fulham knockout Premier League side Aston Villa.
- Oxford United 4-1 Hartlepool: Oxford United scored four second-half goals to send non-league Hartlepool out of the FA Cup despite taking the lead.
- Preston 2-4 Norwich: 18-year-old Adam Idah scored a hat-trick to help Premier League strugglers Norwich into the fourth round.
- Reading 2-2 Blackpool: The Tangerines may be left ruing a missed penalty as they drew 2-2 with Championship side Reading.
- Southampton 2-0 Huddersfield: Two goals from academy products Will Smallbone and Jake Vokins helped Southampton into the fourth round.
- Watford 3-3 Tranmere: Watford surrendered a 3-0 lead to draw with League One side Tranmere Rovers and had a man sent off for the third game in a row.
- Bournemouth 4-0 Luton: Bournemouth cruised to victory against the Championship’s bottom club, winning by the same margin they were beaten by West Ham on New Year’s Day.
- Fleetwood 1-2 Portsmouth: The 2008 winners got the better of fellow League One side Fleetwood to reach the fourth round for just the fifth time since their final win.
- Man City 4-1 Port Vale: The holders cruised to victory despite initially being pegged back by a Tom Pope goal.
- Wolves 0-0 Man Utd: The only goalless draw of the third round will see Man Utd and Wolves face off again at Old Trafford.